Date of Degree
Access restricted until 08/31/2020
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
John Durham Peters
Fourth Committee Member
“Cerebral Imaginaries” examines the intersections between anatomically justified theories of brain function and the literature of Great Britain and the United States from the 1800s to the 1880s. The years that followed the heyday of philosophical mind materialism (in the late 1700s) but preceded the dawn of modern psychology (around 1880), saw the appearance of neuroscience as a discipline. This dissertation traces the literary impact and cultural constructedness of new theories of mindedness and human cognition that came in its wake. What anatomists, alienists, and amateur scientists hypothesized about the brain in these years served to unsettle many assumptions about the thinking self that underpinned Anglo-American culture: be it the idea of having a single, coherent mind, or notions of free will and rationality. In tandem with early neurologists, contemporary writers interrogated what having (or perhaps: being) a brain really entailed, leading to a highly creative cross-insemination between science and literature. From the British Romantics to the American Gothic and from early Realism to technophile periodical fiction, this dissertation demonstrates that literature not only reacted to the science of its day, but, in turn, directly influenced it by providing structuring metaphors, cognitive frameworks, and epistemologies.
Brains, Literature, Media Studies, Neuroscience, Poetry, Prose
xiii, 245 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 220-245).
Copyright © 2018 Stefan Schöberlein
Schöberlein, Stefan. "Cerebral imaginaries: brains and literature in the transatlantic sphere, 1800-1880." PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2018.
Available for download on Monday, August 31, 2020